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Towards an Autopoietic Social Systems Theory of Leadership

MCKAY, Rob (2016) Towards an Autopoietic Social Systems Theory of Leadership. In: British Academy of Management Conference 2016, 6-8 September 2016, Newcastle Upon Tyne. (Submitted)

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Abstract or description

Despite a long history of theoretical and operational study, there remains considerable debate around what leadership actually is. In this paper, I propose through a series of steps that leadership may be considered as an autopoietic social system (after the work of Nikolas Luhmann (Luhmann 2013)) that alternates its existence with the organisation system, with the transition between them taking place at junctures triggered by the grand uncertainty presented in the form of the ‘wicked problem’. This theoretical approach to the nature of leadership is demonstrated to accommodate existing theoretical approaches to leadership from across the range of schools of thought on the topic, and to create a framework for perceiving leadership as a transient state independent of individual leaders.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: leadership, "social system", "autopoietic", "autopoiesis"
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Business, Education and Law > Business
Event Title: British Academy of Management Conference 2016
Event Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne
Event Dates: 6-8 September 2016
Depositing User: